Literary Precedents for The Barnum Museum

This Study Guide consists of approximately 12 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Barnum Museum.
This section contains 199 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy The Barnum Museum Short Guide

Steven Millhauser's most immediate precedents include the short fiction of Donald Barthelme and Robert Coover. These authors also create a fun-house world of play and illusion; the stories in The Barnum Museum are clearly heirs. For example, Robert Coover's short story "The Babysitter" offers an account—or, rather, several conflicting, simultaneous accounts—of what happens to a babysitter and her charges over the course of an evening. This story, too, shows the impossibility of interpretation and of ever getting to the truth.

However, Millhauser's precedents go further back than the American postmodern writers of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the same themes may be seen in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, particularly in "Rappaccini's Daughter." Rappaccini's overwhelming desire for knowledge, and his use of that knowledge to tamper with nature, is echoed in "The Invention of Robert Herendeen," as is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Another precedent...

(read more)

This section contains 199 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy The Barnum Museum Short Guide
Copyrights
Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults
The Barnum Museum from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
Follow Us on Facebook